Album cover of Jazz Funk Sessions

Music Discovery: The Harlem Pop Trotters and the Jazz Fusion Movement of the 1970s

11 Apr 2023

A photo of the Jazz Fusion band Harlem Pop Trotters

By Sarah Scarlata

The 1970s was a very exciting era for music. Experimentation was pushing the boundaries of genre and challenging what sounds we associated with each one.  

Jazz was especially going through a rebirth since Miles Davis released his revolutionary album Bitches Brew in 1970. The addition of John McLaughlin on guitar added a rock-styled distortion not normally heard in Jazz at the time. The combination of innovative rhythms and harmonic choices by an all-star line-up which also included Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, and The Man himself, Miles Davis, raised the bar as to what you can achieve and still have it be considered Jazz.  

The term for this need breed of Jazz which continued to evolve dramatically in the 1970s was called Jazz Fusion since it was a melting pot of many musical influences including Jazz, Rock, and Funk. There was a new burst of talent which spawned the cross pollination of all-star bands like Return to Forever, Frank Zappa’s various line-ups, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Weather Report.  

This spirit of collaboration birthed a Jazz Fusion group out of Paris called The Harlem Pop Trotters. This group of six musicians came together for a late-night recording session at La Comédie des Champs-Elysées led by Jean-Claude Pierric and François Rolland in 1975. The resulting album of twelve tracks is a masterpiece and a great representation of the genre and era. 

Some stand out tracks are: 

To learn more about Harlem Pop Trotters and how this album came together, check out this interview from Its Psychedelic Baby Magazine. 

Listen to the full album.

Album cover of Jazz Funk Sessions